Police commend victims for reporting abuse

Northumbria Police and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner have commended victims of sexual offences for coming forward and having the courage to seek help.

It comes following the release of figures from NSPCC which shows an increase in recorded sex offences against children from 778 in 2014/15 to 1482 in 2015/16.

While this shows a dramatic rise, the force has a number of specialist operations and teams which are dedicated to investigating recent and non-recent reports of child sexual abuse.

Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Hall of Northumbria Police's Safeguarding Department has welcomed the increase and believes that with more national awareness around sexual abuse, people have the confidence to report it to police.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hall, said: "We take every reported allegation of sexual abuse against a child or young person extremely seriously.

"We will always ensure a thorough investigation is conducted using specially trained staff and that our department works hand in hand with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring offenders to justice.

"There has been a significant increase in reporting of abuse across the country on the back of high profile media coverage in recent years about sexual abuse. This increase shows people in our region feel more comfortable about reporting sexual offences to police and we will continue to provide a safe environment for victims of crime.

"Victims are our absolute priority and we are working with some fantastic organisations and partners to be able to provide a full wrap-around of support for those who have been affected by sexual abuse.

"We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse - recently or in the past - to come forward and report it to police. Our specialist safeguarding officers are here to support victims and each case is treated in a highly confidential and sensitive way, with the welfare and safety of the young people being of paramount importance.

"We are also doing a lot of work around early intervention and prevention to help educate people about sexual abuse and exploitation and how to spot the signs. We want to stress that everyone has a part to play in tackling sexual abuse and exploitation and we would ask if you witnesses something that doesn't feel right between an adult and child, please report it to police. Safeguarding really is everyone's business."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: “For me, these are encouraging figures. I understand that for some the numbers may seem concerning but it’s reassuring that proactive operations by Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding team combined with the ongoing ‘Yewtree’ effect are having a profound impact and are building victim confidence. It’s what we want – for people to come forward knowing they will be believed – that way we can ensure they are brought to safety, access the help and support they need and do everything it takes to bring offenders to justice.

“It takes immense courage to speak out when you’ve been a victim of a sexual offence particularly if you’re a child, confused by what has happened, and unsure where to turn. I will ensure Northumbria Police continues to take positive action and ensure victims are given the best support possible.”

If you have concerns around sexual abuse please contact police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Or report it to NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

For more information about sexual abuse follow @NorthumbriaPol, Facebook/Instagram (NorthumbriaPol) #SaySomething #SIEB (Safeguarding Is Everyone's Business) #NPInvestigates